Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
The Los Angeles Dodgers brought in Teoscar Hernández on a one-year, $23.5 million, providing them with an everyday option that eliminates a huge void in the outfield.
Hernández joins an offense led by Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman the newly-signed, Shohei Ohtani and Will Smith. Max Muncy, James Outman and Gavin Lux are expected to be in the regular mix as well, with Jason Heyward filling a platoon role.
The Dodgers envision Hernández bringing an impact right-handed bat to the lineup after a four-year stretch that featured a lot of home run pop. It was also accompanied by a significant number of strikeouts, but the Dodgers aren’t concerned about that.
“I’m not sure we’re going to be looking to actively do much on that front,” Dodgers general manager Brandon Gomes said regarding the strikeouts. “I think it’ll be part of being in a very deep lineup, how Doc deploys him within that lineup, and then our game planning and messaging of this is kind of where we’re going to look to hunt, but not looking to make him overly passive or change his DNA as a hitter.
“We actually like a little bit of diversity there. Actually, I don’t feel that concerned about the strikeouts as opposed to I think what he will do is probably increase his walk rate more within this lineup. But I don’t think it’s going to be active messaging, I think it’s going to be much more a byproduct of being in a really good lineup. And maybe some slight tweaks on how to attack pitchers that are hitting guys we’ll suggest along the way.
“I think what was very intriguing with Teo is that he crushes velocity. He crushes velocity up in the zone, but he’s not susceptible to any one pitch type. He can hit all pitch types. And when he’s getting those pitches in the zone, he can do real damage.
“So there’s a there’s a real danger behind what he brings to the plate. And I think when he can force pitchers into the zone a bit more, that’s when he’s really going to be at his best and able to really impact the baseball.”
Hernández carried a 31.1 % strikeout rate in 2023, a tick up from his career-average of 29.7%. The Dodgers can afford to lean on Betts (15.4% strikeout rate in 2023), Freeman (16.6%), Smith (16.1%) and Jason Heyward (17%) to put the ball in play.
However, Hernández will perhaps bring a more aggressive approach to a lineup that can sometimes be too passive.
With Ohtani being a plus-replacement for J.D. Martinez’s production, coupled with the addition of Hernández’s slugging, the Dodgers are in a position where they can build on a historic 2023 offense.
How much will Teoscar Hernández bring to the Dodgers offensively?
His 2023 numbers weren’t eye-popping numbers from a consistency standpoint, however, his power output is what the Dodgers are focusing on.
Hernández’s 105 wRC+ in 2023 is down from his electric three-year stretch from 2020-2022, when he averaged a 133 wRC+. But the veteran outfielder still slugged 26 home runs and drove in 93 runs.
The Dodgers see immense value in Hernández in his ability to play the corner outfield spots at a solid rate, while being able to play every day and crushing left-handed pitching. After appearing in 160 games in 2023, he provided a solid foundation of what to expect in the upcoming season.
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